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A complete resource about Company Culture by O.C. Tanner
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Company Culture: Your Complete Resource


Appreciation and Employee Recognition

What it is:
Employee appreciation and recognition are often used interchangeably but have different meanings. Appreciation is seeing the worth and value of someone. It’s an emotion, the feeling of being valued for your unique talents, skills, and contributions.

Recognition is the act of showing appreciation. It’s using words or actions to show gratitude, and it fuels the feeling of being appreciated. Employees' efforts and accomplishments must be appreciated through acts of recognition.

Unfortunately, recognition is not happening often and employees are not feeling appreciated:

Is recognition happening? In the past 30 days...

57% of employees received a "thank you" from a leader or peer

27% of employees received spontaneous praise for their work

26% of employees received formal recognition

20% of employees were assigned a special project

28% of employees did not receive ANY of the above

How it impacts culture:
Recognition acts like a rocket booster, kicking in to enhance the things people look for in a job and elevating the entire organisation to higher levels of success. In fact, 76% of employees who feel appreciated believe they can take on anything. Simply recognising great work elevates engagement by as much as 50%.

Recognition improves engagement, inspires innovation, builds trust. When asked “what is the most important thing your manager or company does (or could do) to cause you to produce great work”, the number one response was “recognise me.”

“Appreciation for my work” was also the number one attribute that job seekers across the globe said was most important in their new job.

And recognition has a big impact on the 6 essential elements of workplace culture (called the Talent Magnets as they are what make an organisation a magnet for great talent). When employees are recognised for their work, they also feel a higher sense of purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and have a more positive perception of leadership.

Talent magnets include: Leadership, purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, and wellbeing.
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How to do it well:

While recognition may seem easy, many leaders and organisations struggle to effectively show appreciation. Here are a few ways to build recognition into your company culture:

1) Show appreciation deliberately. Give thanks, spontaneous but purposeful praise, and formal recognition. Recognition must be specific and timely for extra effort or above and beyond work. If recognition is not given when an employee does great work, there is a 71% decrease in feelings of appreciation.

2) Make recognition a priority. It can’t be an afterthought, so change when it occurs. Give recognition at the beginning of meetings, not at the end. At the top of the newsletter, not the bottom. On the front page of your intranet site, beginning of the email, or even during a special meeting where the only item on the agenda is showing appreciation.

3) Enable leaders to give recognition in a genuine and personal way. Provide training and best practices on the why and how of recognition. Have tools and resources to give recognition effectively. Use recognition champions that can model, remind, and inspire everyone to show appreciation whenever great work happens.

4) Recognise holistically. This includes recognition for extra effort, great work, innovation, career milestones, company milestones, and personal milestones. Use recognition as an opportunity for leaders to connect with their teams, and peers to connect with each other.

Read more about how to build employee recognition into your workplace culture.


What it is:
A term once reserved for healthcare workers on the clock for too many hours in demanding jobs, “employee burnout” has become the new workplace crisis. 40% of employees across industries globally are experiencing moderate to severe burnout. The World Health Organization officially classified burnout as a symptom related to “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. 95% of HR leaders admit burnout is hurting retention at their organisations, contributing to up to half of annual workforce turnover.

Burnout is a result of chronic poor workplace culture, and can be measured through three indicators:

Burnout causes exhaustion, which is physical and mental exhaustion measured in the reporting of both aspects. Futility is cynicism and a perception the employee cannot produce a useful result, and avoidance is the intentional distance between the employee and their work; includes dread, absenteeism, and avoiding everyday situations.
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How it impacts culture:

Employee burnout has a devastating effect on companies. In addition to causing 120,000 deaths per year and $190 billion in healthcare spending, burnout leads to employees being 23% more likely to visit an emergency room, as well as an increase in health issues like Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, and high cholesterol.

Even mild burnout has a negative impact on companies. Companies with mild burnout see:

• 220% decrease in the probability of highly engaged employees
• 247% decrease in the probability of great work incidence
• 210% decrease in the probability an employee will be a promoter of the organisation
• 12 point decrease in the reported employee experience rating

Employees who say they very often or always experience burnout at work are:
• 63% more likely to take a sick day
• 23% more likely to visit the emergency room
• 2.6 times as likely to leave their current employer
• 13% less confident in their performance

How to do it well:
To prevent employees from suffering from burnout, companies need to create a company culture where employees feel supported and fulfilled at work.

1) Create a thriving workplace culture. It’s not always the physical work environment or the actual work that causes burnout. It’s the absence of the essential culture elements that employees need to thrive at work: purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership.

2) Recognise the process of burnout. It’s doesn’t happen overnight, it’s the result of chronic poor employee experiences. Focus on creating positive micro (everyday) and peak experiences that help employees feel connected to their organisations and supported by their leaders and teams. When employees are connected to a purpose, accomplishment, and their peers, they are less likely to feel isolated or futile in their jobs.

3) Focus on employees as human and prioritise their wellbeing. It’s not just about physical health, but also social and emotional health. Help your people find work/life integration. Connect them with other peers at work. Create an environment where they feel psychologically safe and a sense of belonging at work. Getting to know your people as people will help identify and prevent burnout earlier.

Prevent burnout by using 5 steps to combat loneliness in the workplace.

Employee Engagement

What it is:
Engagement is a measure of how much discretionary effort an employee is willing to give to their work and their organisation. Engagement is an intangible measure: part passion, commitment, and motivation. Companies used to try and drive engagement, dressing up their work cultures using perks and benefits or fun workspaces to get employees to be more engaged. But organisations are learning that you can’t drive engagement, you can only be a place employees want to engage with.

True engagement exists in employees who frequently share a sense of accomplishment, who work toward a common purpose, and understand how their work impacts your business and helps the world. Engagement is, in fact, a measure of connection. Companies with high employee engagement connect their people together. It’s the same type of connection companies try to facilitate through catered lunches and ping pong tables. But there’s a difference between having an inspirational purpose vs. having an inspirational purpose that employees connect to. Having a common goal vs. having a common goal that employees work together toward. Celebrating wins and celebrating victories together. 

Companies with highly engaged employees are able to connect their employees to a purpose, the organisation, and one another. While Gallup reports that employee engagement is at all time high at 34%, it also means 2/3rds of the workforce is still not engaged.

“When employees feel validated and feel a part of the bigger picture, and a part of the strategy, we all work harder. We do more. We put more effort into everything we do and we do better work. That impacts the shareholders. That impacts corporate initiatives. That impacts the bottom line. It’s very good business sense to make sure that we have an engaged workforce.”

—Curtis Kesler, Human Resources Operations Service Line Leader at Dow Chemical

How it impacts culture:
Companies that have employees who feel engaged see better business results. Organisations with highly engaged employees have:

• Earnings-per-share growth that is more than 4X their competitors
• 21% higher profitability
• 41% reduced absenteeism
• 59% less turnover
• 10% increase in customer ratings
• 20% increase in sales
• A 3% increase in revenue (with a 5-point increase in engagement)

On the other hand, disengagement can cost companies up to $550B a year.

How to do it well:
You can’t drive employee engagement, but you can become a place employees want to engage with:   

1. Provide a line of sight. Connect an employee’s specific work to your company’s purpose and show how they are making a difference for your company, customers, and community. Use recognition to help make the connection between an individual’s work and company success.

2. Create a sense of belonging. Employees are naturally more engaged when they feel connected to their teams and the company. Train leaders to build an inclusive culture and have robust onboarding processes throughout the first year to help new hires find their place. Check in often with employees to get their feedback on the company culture to see what can be improved.

3. Celebrate victories together. Whether it’s big wins or little triumphs, career milestones or company successes, celebrating together and appreciating the work of employees builds bonds better than any work perk or teambuilding activity.

Check out everything you need to know about employee engagement.

“Our workplace culture is definitely one of our biggest differentiators. People work here because they believe in our mission and culture. It’s up to us to ensure that culture is sustainable. By having effective recognition solutions in place, we are able to encourage people to align with our mission while demonstrating their own unique work ethic and passion.”

—Dana Ullom-Vucelich, Chief Human Resources & Ethics Officer at Ohio Living

Employee Experience

What it is:
The employee experience is the culmination of your employees’ many small experiences at your organisation. It is greatly impacted by your company’s culture and contributes to building your company culture. Employee experiences are all the interactions your people have with your organisation: their physical work environment, conversations with colleagues and leaders, emails, posters in the hallways, messages from senior leaders, and the tools, technology, and resources they use.

In the past, the employee experience was synonymous with the employee lifecycle. Companies interacted with employees when they hit various milestones in their lifecycle:

Employee lifecycle includes attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation.
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Today, research shows that the employee experience is more than just the generic, top-down, company-wide programs organisations use to try and engage their people. The employee experience is the everyday, micro-experiences that employees encounter. The fun Monday morning conversations with coworkers about their weekend, the beautiful space they work in, a great meeting with their leader, all contribute to a positive employee experience. Within micro-experiences there are some peak experiences, which are exceptional moments like receiving recognition from a coworker or leader or finishing up a major project successfully that meaningfully impact the employee experience.

Conversely, negative experiences, like a degrading comment from a leader, a lack of connection in a team, or not being able to get much-needed resources for a project can contribute to a poor employee experience. Valley experiences also exist, which are exceptionally bad moments in the employee experience.

When organizations remember that the employee experience is the everyday experience, they remember that employees are people with human needs and create a more human experience that focuses on daily interactions instead of just onboarding and retirement.
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The employee experience is important: 1 in 5 employees, especially Millennials, leave because of a poor employee experienceDeloitte found 84% of employees and leaders rated the employee experience important, with 28% putting it in their three most urgent issues facing their organisation today.

When organisations remember that the employee experience is the everyday experience, they remember that employees are people with human needs and create a more human experience that focuses on daily interactions instead of just onboarding and retirement.

Leaders play a critical role in determining what the employee experience will be—they set the tone for the organisation and are responsible for the environment employees work in and most of the interactions employees have. They relay the messages from the organisation and build the connections with their people.

How it impacts culture:
Company culture and the employee experience are intrinsically connected. They work synergistically. Culture affects the employee experience, but the employee experience also builds culture.

Employees in thriving workplace cultures rate their employee experience higher:

When organizations having a thriving culture, employees rate their satisfaction with employee experience 102% higher. 43% of employees rate satisfaction in non-thriving cultures, where 87% of employees rate satisfaction in thriving cultures.
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And companies with great employee experiences are:

• 6X more likely to have promoters on the net promoter scale
• 8X more likely to have high incidence of great work
• 13X more likely to have highly engaged employees
• 3X less likely to have layoffs
• 2X more likely to have increased in revenue
• 3X less likely to have employees experiencing medium to severe burnout
• 7X more likely to have employees innovating

The importance of an employee’s micro-experiences cannot be emphasised enough. If you want to build a thriving workplace culture, create great employee micro-experiences.

How to do it well:
Rather than trying to implement company-wide HR programs from the top down, design, with intention, an employee experience focused on micro-experiences that impact your employees every day:

1)  Create peak experiences rather than trying to fix negative ones. It will be easier to create amazing everyday moments and it will be more impactful on the overall employee experience, as peak experiences have a longer lasting impact than just mediocre or negative experiences.

2) Rethink leadership. The traditional, hierarchical leadership style isn’t working anymore. Leaders must take a more mentoring approach with their people. Things like one-to-one conversations with team members strengthen connection better than micro-managing.

3) Build teams where employees feel included, supported, and psychologically safe.

4) Actively listen to understand your people–not just to check the box–and make changes based on that feedback.

Read more about the latest research and best practices for creating a great employee experience.


What it is:
Inclusiveness isn’t just diversity and percentages. It’s not a policy. Inclusion means to help employees be their best, most authentic selves at work. Inclusive cultures are places where people feel like they fit in and belong to your organisation—where they feel connected and emotionally well. Inclusion is welcoming and accepting people as they are, regardless of their race, gender, age, background, and culture.

Inclusion enables employees to create connections with each other and feel comfortable and empowered to do great work.

“We’re hard-wired for belonging. It’s in our DNA.”

—Brene Brown

How it impacts culture:
An inclusive culture is a culture where employees can thrive. They can bring their best selves to work and do their best work.

When a culture is inclusive, employees are:

68% more likely to believe they can be their authentic self at work

85% more likely to agree their team knows the "real me"

68% more likely to take time to get to know colleagues personally

141% more likely to feel a sense of belonging

117% more likely to feel enriched by the people they work with

How to do it well:
Inclusion is a way of being, not a policy. In order to have a more inclusive culture:

1) Treat inclusion as a more than just a policy. If inclusion is seen as an HR initiative, leaders think it is solely HR’s job. But make it a corporate culture initiative and they’ll more actively work to create an inclusive culture. Show leaders why it matters, and equip them with skills and training to foster inclusion on their teams.

2) Connect your people. Establish an environment of belonging by encouraging in-person interactions with people inside and outside of an employee’s workgroup. Provide opportunities for employees to network and socialise during work hours with different parts of the organisation.

3) Appreciate differing opinions. Give recognition when someone has a different idea or opinion than the rest. Appreciating differences encourages out of the box and innovative thinking and shows that all feedback and thoughts are welcome.

Check out how you can communicate culture to a multigenerational workforce.

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different,
we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation.”

—Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn


What it is:
Leadership can refer to leaders in a hierarchical structure (senior leaders, middle management, direct managers, etc.). It can also refer to taking a leadership role in a project or on a team, regardless of one’s official title or position.

Research shows that traditional leadership practices are becoming outdated. The modern workplace is evolving, with employees who are more mobile, more deskless, and increasingly diverse. Gone are the days where employees needed a leader to tell them what time to come in, and what to work on. Millennials and Gen Zers, in particular, are not interested in organisations where hierarchy, structure, and micro-management rule. They don’t want to work for a company where a small percentage of leaders hold a high percentage of decision-making power. Instead, they look to organisations where leaders inspire and influence great work, mentor and coach their people, and connect their teams to the organisation.

“Boomers have been autocratic leaders that are all about command, control and policies, such as working nine-to-five. Millennials want to create a more collaborative environment where they exchange ideas with peers and accomplish a mission instead of a corporate culture that’s rigid with policies and procedures.”

—Sean Graber, CEO, Virtuali

Great leaders connect their people: to a purpose, accomplishment, and one another. They show why their employees’ work makes a difference. They help them achieve success, recognise their great work, and foster a sense of belonging. The best leaders build a workplace culture where employees can thrive.

Great leaders connect their people: to a purpose, accomplishment, and one another. They show why their employees’ work makes a difference. They help them achieve success, recognize their great work, and foster a sense of belonging. The best leaders build a workplace culture where employees can thrive.
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How it impacts culture:
Leadership plays a crucial role in building company culture, as they set the tone of the workplace and impact many areas of the employee experience. They are the foundation of where essential elements of corporate culture come from: purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, leadership is going through a crisis. Less than half of employees feel their leader works to develop them. Only 26% feel their leader encourages collaboration, with over half saying their leader won’t give up control over anything. Only 59% believe their leader values them, and 1 in 5 say their leader regularly expresses doubts about them.

Companies with leaders that have “traditional” leadership styles see lower scores on workplace culture, their employee experience, and business results, and have higher rates of burnout.

Graph showing the outcome and the effect of traditional leadership practices on the bottom line: cultural impact, revenue, layoffs, etc.
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But great leaders who connect their people see tremendous results.

When leaders connect their people to purpose, employees are:

• 373% more likely to have a strong sense of purpose
• 747% more likely to be highly engaged
• 49% less likely to burn out.

When leaders connect their people to accomplishment, there is a:

• 259% increase in odds an employee will have a strong sense of opportunity
• 247% increase in odds an employee will do great work
• 46% less likely to burn out.

When leaders connect their people to one another, they see a:

• 156% increase in odds an employee will have a strong sense of wellbeing
• 374% increase in odds an employee will feel appreciated
• 43% less likely to burn out.

When leaders do all 3, there is:

• 250% greater odds an employee will be a promoter
• 405% greater odds an employee will highly rate their employee experience
• 845% greater odds an employee will be engaged
• 1,674% greater odds an employee will have a strong sense of leadership
• 56% reduction in burnout

How to do it well:
Leaders must move beyond the traditional style of leadership and become advocates for their people:

1) Provide mentorship and inspiration, rather than micro-management. Provide input and advice throughout a project when needed and then get out of the way. Show you trust and value your people and teams. Empower them to make their own decisions and be autonomous, and then inspire and cheer them on.

2) Utilise shared leadership. It can’t be just the leader who makes decisions. Give your people a voice and a seat at the table. Ask them for their ideas and insight and let them take the reins to lead. Encourage them to take risks and fail in order to innovate.

3) Connect employees to purpose, accomplishment, and one another. Show how an employee’s specific work helps your customers. Publicly recognise their successes. Help them build their own social networks by connecting them to peers and leaders outside of their workgroups and around the company. Employees who feel connected are more motivated to innovate and help the company succeed. They will also become more loyal to your organisation.

Find out how to be a leader your employees never want to leave.

“Success is best when it's shared.”

—Howard Schultz, Chairman & CEO, Starbucks


What it is:
Opportunity is more than just promotions and pay raises. For employees, opportunity means feeling heard and having a seat at the table. It includes the ability to grow and develop, but also work on challenging, special projects and be continuously making an impact on the organisation.

Currently only 60% of employees feel they have opportunities for continuous learning at work, and 52% feel they have a seat at the table on important decisions.

The opportunity for growth and development and having a voice in the organisation is no longer a work perk; it’s become an expectation. Companies that don’t provide meaningful opportunities will quickly lose their best talent.

How it impacts culture:
Employees said opportunity for growth and development was one of their top drivers of engagement, but also their second highest reason for quitting.

A sense of opportunity at work helps employees feel empowered to do great work and stay for the long haul. Even a perceived lack of opportunity can affect talent acquisition, engagement, and retention. 83% of employees say they are more likely to stay with an organisation that offers new problems to solve and projects to work on than if they did not have those opportunities.

“I asked my supervisor if there were any additional responsibilities, or tasks I could take on to learn more or to explore deeper. Her response was, ‘If you want to further your career, you should do it at a different company.’ So, I quit.”

—Focus group participant, USA

How to do it well:
Companies may not have the budget or structure to offer employees promotions and pay raises quickly or often. But there are other ways to provide opportunity at work:

1) Provide variety for employees at work in what they do, whom they work with, and how they work. Provide exposure to different projects and different areas of the company.

2) Allow employees to influence important decisions. Give them a chance to voice their opinions and listen to what they have to say.

3) Provide networking and mentoring opportunities. Building social capital can be just as, if not more, important than the title on an org chart.

4) Use special projects as a way to help employees build new skills and connect with people they may not normally interact with. Simply participating in special projects can have a huge impact on how an employee feels about your workplace culture.

Read more about how special projects are a secret weapon to providing opportunity in the workplace.

Yes and no answers to leaders acknowledging great work, understanding of how an employee contributes, and willingness to stay at the organization.
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Performance Management

What it is:
Performance management is how organisations assess and improve employee performance. Traditional performance management relied on annual reviews with a list of things employees needed to improve before they could go up a rung on the corporate ladder. This type of performance management leads to only 60% of employees who feel their performance is fairly assessed at their organisation, and over 50% wishing they could have more conversations with their leader about their development.

Today modern organisations are switching to more continuous, personalised performance management. While the annual performance review is not dead, it’s being supplemented with other methods of performance management: quarterly reviews, one-on-ones with leaders, peer one-to-ones, and daily conversations. Annual reviews can feel too generic and impersonal. Talking about performance only annually is an ineffective way of assessing that entire year’s performance.

Instead, these ongoing methods of performance management can feel more personal and meaningful. They provide more up-to-date feedback and present current opportunities for development.

A holistic performance management practice provides mentorship and coaching in addition to assessment. It allows leaders to give resources and appreciation in real-time, and provides ongoing opportunities for development.

“We have them monthly just because the work we do is quite stressful. I find that if you don’t have them regularly, you’ll find that you have more problems. Sometimes, when it has been three months, morale in the team goes down. One-to-ones help address issues as we go along, not wait 12 months.”

—Focus group participant

How it impacts culture:
Receiving frequent performance assessments is important to helping employees feel successful at work. Research shows:

• When leaders provided two methods of performance management instead of only one, they saw a 44% increase in employee perception of success.

• When three methods of performance management were used, there was a 104% increase in perceived success.

• When only one method of performance management was used, there was a decrease in perceived success.

Continuous performance management also has an impact on the essential elements of workplace culture in addition to success.

When employees have regular one-to-one conversations along with more formal reviews, they feel more connected to a purpose, are presented with more opportunities for growth and development, feel more appreciated, and have a more positive perception of wellbeing, success, and leadership at their organisations.  

Connect your team to the six talent magnets to see increase on sense of purpose, opportunity, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership.
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How to do it well:
Ongoing conversations about employee performance should be frequent and personal:

1) Utilise multiple methods of performance management. This can include annual reviews, but should also include quarterly reviews, frequent one-on-one meetings with leaders, and daily conversations.

2) One-to-one meetings should be informal and co-created. One-to-ones shouldn’t feel too formal or structured, but instead be a natural conversation. Both the leader and employee should have input into what is discussed and prepare for them.

3) Peer-to-peers are another way of providing ongoing feedback to employees about their performance. They are one-to-one conversations between colleagues that are not overly critical but allow peers to give feedback and suggestions to improve. Peer-to-peers, when done informally in a psychologically safe environment, can deepen the connection between team members and help employees grow and develop.     

Find out how you can future-proof your performance management program.


What it is:
Purpose is your organisation’s reason for being—the difference your organisation makes in the world. It’s why your company exists. Employees want to be part of something bigger and make an impact to change the world.

Purpose is different from mission, strategy, or values. Mission is what you do. Strategy is how you will do it. Values are behaviors you want employees to live by. But purpose is why you do all of these things.

Unfortunately, only 66% of employees feel a sense of purpose from their organisation, and only 53% say their purpose is inspiring.

Gen Z and Millennials are drawn to organisations with a strong purpose, with 68% of Millennials saying “changing the world” is a personal goal they are working towards. They also have a higher sense of purpose at work than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers:

Gen Z reports 60%, Millennials report 59%, Generation X 50%, and Baby Boomers report 51% sense of purpose at work.
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“Profit isn’t a purpose. It’s a result. To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.”

—Simon Sinek

Why it impacts culture:
People are attracted to companies with a clear purpose that they can connect to. Being able to see, hear, and feel purpose in the employee experience creates a culture where employees feel inspired and more motivated.

Employees that find meaningful purpose at work are twice as satisfied with their jobs and 3X as likely to stay with their organisation. Purpose-driven companies outperform their peers in stock price by 12X. And when employees feel ownership of their organisation’s purpose, they are over 120% more likely to feel motivated at work.

How to do it well:
It’s not enough just to have an inspiring purpose. Employees must know what your purpose is, feel connected to it, and understand how they contribute to that purpose. Here are 4 ways to embed purpose in your organisation:

1) Make sure your purpose is aligned to your employee value proposition, customer value proposition, and social good. When your messaging is integrated and consistent, it makes it easier for everyone to identify and connect with your company’s purpose.

2) Communicate your purpose clearly and often. Employees must see and hear about your company’s purpose weekly, if not daily.

3) Tie employee recognition to purpose. When you recognise and appreciate employees, be specific in how they and their work contribute to the company’s purpose. They can see just how they are helping make a difference.

4) Tell employees how they connect to your purpose. Use one-on-one meetings as consistent, frequent conversations of how your employee is working towards the purpose of the company.

Read more about why having an inspiring purpose is not enough.

“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organisation. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity and meaning in their job.”

—Ken Blanchard, author, Engaged Leadership: Transforming Through Future-Oriented Design Thinking


What it is:
Success is more than just company success–it’s also about personal success. Success is feeling part of a winning team and feeling positive about the company’s reputation. It’s hearing and seeing innovation and other people’s success. Success is not just winning once but having a pattern of victories.

Currently only 50% of employees feel they are part of a winning team, and only 54% feel like they accomplished something significant at work in the past 30 days. And while 65% of leaders say they feel success at work, only 45% of individual contributors agreed.

In order to feel success, employees need to know what success looks like, understand how to be successful, have the tools to succeed, and feel their performance is fairly assessed and supported.

How it impacts culture:
People want to feel like they are part of a winning team. They want to go to work for organisations that are successful and leading in their industry. They are fueled by the confidence that comes with personal victories and wins.

When your workplace culture includes success, employees are more engaged, passionate, and driven. They experience more camaraderie and connection. They feel a stronger sense of ownership over their teams’ and the organisation’s success.

How to do it well:
In order to facilitate employee success, organisations must allow and encourage employees to try new things and fail:

1) Create an environment of safe failure. Being able to take risks, fail, and learn from those failures is what spurs true innovation. When failure is an accepted part of the innovation process, there is 60% more great work that occurs.

Questions include pride in the organization, the percentage of those who want to stay with their current organization, and feeling a sense of belonging.
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2) Utilise special projects (see “Opportunity” term). Special projects enable employees to tackle new challenges and find success in multiple, different areas of the company. It helps them work on new things outside of their normal job scope.

3) Make success public. Communicate stories of success, share employee victories publicly, and spread news of great work happening at the organisation. This shows employees what success looks like and how they can also achieve it.

4) Provide feedback more than once a year. Employees want to hear how well they are doing, and what they could improve on. Once a year is not enough. The annual review is only effective when combined with continuous one-on-one meetings, quarterly reviews, and daily conversations about performance.

See more best practices on how to make success public at your organisation.

Total Rewards

What it is:
Total rewards are the total benefit employees receive when they accept a position with an organisation. It typically includes more than the monetary compensation and benefits package. Whether it’s the perceived value of a great culture or a series of strategically determined ways where employees feel an increased sense of belonging, total rewards work to attract a candidate for employment in a competitive job market—and keep them there.

Total rewards typically encompass 6 areas:

• Compensation
• Benefits
• Recognition
• Performance management
• Talent development
• Work-life quality

When talking about total rewards, companies often refer to the “employee value proposition” – how to attract, engage, and retain their people. Therefore, rewards must be attractive to, and appropriate for, the employees you are looking to hire, motivate, and keep.

Total rewards include more than just compensation, although many companies struggle to get employees to see things like employee recognition or workplace wellness as part of their total rewards package. Total rewards are now starting to include things that affect the overall employee experience.

How an organisation communicates total rewards can determine the value and effectiveness of the total rewards package. Deloitte found that 80% of organisations are “significantly lagging” behind employee expectations for total reward offerings, and the Net Promoter Score for total rewards programs is a -15!

How it impacts culture:
Companies typically develop attractive total rewards packages as a way to attract top talent and keep their best talent from leaving. A recent study found 17% of more than 1400 public companies have expanded the name and scope of their compensation and total rewards committee to include more culture and talent development initiatives.

Total rewards packages have a tremendous influence on attracting, engaging, and retaining the right people for your workplace culture. When total rewards are tied to the organisation’s culture, employees who are hired and promoted best reflect and shape that culture.

“When employees can understand the total value of the rewards they receive from their employer, a proposed salary increase alone from a prospective employer will appear less significant.”


How to do it well:
Look beyond just salary and bonuses when talking about total rewards:

1) Expand your definition of total rewards. Move beyond compensation and traditional benefits. What does your organisation offer in terms of flexible schedules? Career development? Employee wellness?

2) Provide meaningful awards. Casual Fridays and pizza parties are fun socialisation activities, but not meaningful rewards for a job well done. Things like face time with executive leaders, special projects, recognition opportunities, and better paid family leave may be more attractive.

3) Create a total rewards brand. Deloitte found high performing organisations are 12X more likely to identify specific rewards offerings as competitive differentiators and highlight them in their rewards brand. Communicate often and consistently about your total rewards package, detail what it encompasses, and clearly articulate how it’s better than other companies’ offerings for your people.

“People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.”

—Dale Carnegie

Wellness/Wellbeing & Health

What it is:
Corporate health and wellness have transformed beyond biometric screening and fitness tracking. By incorporating all elements of wellness (physical, emotional, social, financial, etc.) organisations can help their people lead healthy, connected, and engaged lives, both in and outside of work.

True employee wellness or wellbeing is feeling a sense of belonging, that you are connected with your peers and your organisation. With an increasing use of technology in the workplace, in-person interactions are being replaced with messaging and texting apps, leading to less connection and more loneliness in the workplace.

Holistic wellbeing means caring about the employee has a whole: their physical but also social and emotional wellbeing. Harvard Business Review found 4 factors that build workplace wellness:

• fostering social connections
• showing empathy
• going out of your way to help someone
• encouraging people to talk to each other

How it impacts culture:
In addition to reducing healthcare/insurance costs and lowering employee absenteeism, a focus on employee wellness can decrease stress, improve productivity, and build inspiring workplace cultures. Virgin Pulse found 65% of companies with strategic, holistic wellbeing programs saw improvements in their company cultures, and the American Psychology Association found 89% of workers in companies that had great wellbeing efforts are more likely to recommend their company as a place to work.

When employees feel socially and emotionally well, they feel like they fit in and belong at their organisation. There is more collaboration and engagement, and employees are able to do their best work.

“Wellbeing comes from one place, and one place only: a positive culture.”

—Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron, Harvard Business Review

How to do it well:
In order to improve employee wellness:

1) Focus on the bigger picture of wellbeing. Create efforts to improve the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of your people. Provide tools to help employees prioritise their own wellbeing.

2) Prioritise connection. Fill your workplace with opportunities for employees to connect and interact. Provide time, on the clock, for socialisation, networking, and fun.

3) Provide spaces to connect. Set aside communal spaces for impromptu conversations and meetings, while having more personal spaces for private conversations and business as needed.

Learn more about how to improve corporate culture with employee wellbeing.

Work-Life Balance/Work-Life Integration

What it is:
Work-life balance is being able to balance your home life with your work life. You work reasonable hours and are also able to enjoy a robust home life.

Work-life integration is not as black and white–it’s where work life and home life overlap and integrate. Work-life integration means checking emails during your child’s soccer game, finishing up a proposal in the middle of your vacation, or finalising a sales presentation right before you go to bed. It’s being able to browse social media in between meetings, leaving early to attend a yoga class on Mondays, or volunteering at your child’s school on Thursday mornings.  You have both work and personal apps on your phone. Work-life integration means work and life are interchangeable throughout the day, understanding that both work life and personal life are important, integrated parts of an individual’s whole life.

The idea of work-life integration has become increasingly popular with younger generations and working parents. A Glassdoor survey found 87% of employees expect their employers to support a balance between their work and personal lives.

“The challenge of work-life balance is without question one of the most significant struggles faced by modern man.”

—Stephen Covey, Author

How it impacts culture:
Work-life integration improves employee wellbeing and engagement by lowering stress, and may even promote more innovation, as many people do their best thinking and work away from the office. It creates a culture that shows the organisation values and cares for its people beyond as just a means of production, but also as individuals. Studies have shown that, particularly for millennials and working parents, flexibility is more important than salary when employees consider potential jobs.

How to do it well:
Organisations should allow flexibility as far as when, where, and how employees do their work:

1) Create policies that allow flexibility in employee work schedules. Not every job role can accommodate this, but when possible, allow employees to choose to what degree they want to integrate their work and personal lives.

2) Provide technology to allow for work-life integration. Have messaging apps, teleconferencing tools, and shared online workspaces available to make it easier for employees to work from anywhere, anytime.

3) Prioritise connection. While employees may choose to do much of their work outside the office, be sure to provide space and time at work for in-person interactions and socialisation. Have ways to communicate important information to all employees, whether they are physically in the office at a particular time or not. And don’t forget about remote employees when having special events or projects at work.

Check out our 5 Culture Trends for 2021 and see how you can be prepared to help your employees thrive, no matter what new challenges may come their way.

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

—Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

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